3rd candidate for Laconia Police Commission emerges

LACONIA — On the second day of the filing period, three candidates filed for the November elections, two for the School Board and one for the Police Commission.

Mal Murray, who has represented Ward 1 on the School Board for two terms, filed to run for a third term and Michael Persson, the lone at-large member of the board, filed to serve a second term.

Michael Gagnon, a broker with JG Realty of Gilford, became the third candidate to file for the Police Commission. Gagnon said that he was moved to run by his experience with Fusion Networking, a group of young professionals that emphasizes engagement in the life of the community. He joins incumbent Doug Whittum, a retired school administrator who is seeking re-election upon the expiration of his term, and newcomer Jonathan Muller, who owns and operates a landscaping business, in the race for two of the three seats on the Police Commission.

County officials agree to 2 year contract with Teamster's union affiliate

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners approved a tentative agreement with Teamsters Local 633 Wednesday morning by a 2-1 vote.

The two-year contract provides a 1.4 percent pay raise as well step increases according to Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), who said that the union will vote next week on the contract, which, if approved by the union, will go to the Belknap County Convention for approval of funding for the contract.

Taylor said that as part of the agreement the union members have agreed to move their insurance from an HMO plan to a so-called site-of-service plan, which he said will result in considerable savings on health insurance costs.

Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Taylor voted to approve the agreement, which was opposed by Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton).

Burchell  said that it was not good public policy and that commissioners should instead have challenged the validity of the union, which was certified last year by the NH. Public Employee Labor Relations Board and consists of about 22 county employees who were not eligible to become members of the State Employee Association unions which represent employees of the Nursing Home, Corrections Department and Sheriff's Department.

Another little, out-of-the-way street begging for attention

LACONIA — When Robert DeCotis, who has spent summers on Margin Avenue at the Weirs for the past three decades, read that South End street Cleveland Place, then Chapin Terrace in Lakeport, were being rebuilt he wrote to The Daily Sun "wondering if any of us on Margin Avenue will live long enough to see a normal, paved street with adequate drainage here."

Margin Avenue runs for approximately 100 yards between the railroad track and Centenary Avenue, just north of the bridge that carries Foster Avenue over the railway, and intersects Centenary Avenue at both ends. It is a narrow, dirt road, paved only at its northern corner where it joins Centenary Avenue, and has no storm drains. Ten homes front the west side of the street and an equal number fronting on Centenary Avenue back on to the east side of the street.

"Everybody has got water in their cellars, everybody," De Cotis said this week. "It is an ongoing problem." Many residents, he noted, have pumps to clear their basements. He explained that because the ground slopes toward the lake, stormwater is carried across the properties to Centenary Avenue, where there are storm drains. At the north end of Margin Avenue, stormwater is undermining the pavement and washing soil into the intersection with Centenary Avenue.

Margin Avenue is also riddled with potholes, which turn to mud after a rain then, when cars pass by, splatter the sides of the houses built close to the road. DeCotis said that to keep from tracking mud into the house he first built a deck then paved the driveway, but confessed "nothing works."

DeCotis said that Centenary Avenue, along with some of the side streets leading to the lake, have been improved in recent years, but he cannot recall anything being done to address the condition of Margin Avenue in the last 30 years.

Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, said that Margin Avenue is one of a number of gravel roads, which together account for about five miles of city streets. As a gravel road. he noted that it is not part of the pavement management plan. However, he said that "we are aware of it" and added that '"Margin is one of the gravel roads that really should be paved."

Moynihan recalled that 20 years ago most of the streets in that section of The Weirs, including what he called the "cat alleys" — Allen, Mooris, Thompson, Jane's and Haven Avenues — between Centenary Avenue and the lake, were graveled, but have since been paved. "Margin Avenue stands alone," he said, "and I don't feel good about that."

Without a design for the drainage plan, Moynihan said it was difficult to estimate the cost of the project, but remarked "it's not a $20,000 job" and guessed it could cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to pave the road and install the drainage.